Top Cards for the Competition in Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign

Take a look at cards from the newest expansion that are ready to charge into your next Pokémon TCG battle.

By Ellis Longhurst, Contributing Writer

There are many cards that can topple the top decks and crown new champions on the battlefield in the latest Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion. This set includes new Single Strike Pokémon and Rapid Strike Pokémon, as well as never-before-seen Pokémon V and Pokémon VMAX with a wealth of powerful attacks and Abilities. It's an exciting time for Trainers, as new archetypes and strategies emerge, and the current rulers will be required to adapt if they wish to remain at the top.

Let's take a look at some of the cards from Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign that you can expect to have an impact during gameplay.


Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX Takes the Crown

Excitement surrounds the new Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, and for good reason: it has a huge 320 HP, and it's equipped with an attack and Ability that are out of this world. Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX's Underworld Door Ability lets the player attach a Psychic Energy from their hand to 1 of their Benched Psychic-type Pokémon. Generally, the more Energy a player attaches to their Pokémon, the more powerful attacks they can perform. That's what makes Underworld Door particularly useful, especially since it can be used once per turn for every Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in play.

The Underworld Door Ability has the added benefit of allowing the player to draw 2 cards, creating a greater chance to find the resources needed to execute a winning strategy. More importantly, it also reduces the impact of hand-disruption cards like Marnie and Reset Stamp. This Ability is reminiscent of Zoroark-GX's Trade, which defined the Standard format during its time and gave rise to a variety of different decks and strategies.

Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX's attack is nothing to pass over either. Max Geist does 10 damage plus 30 more for each Psychic Energy attached to all of your Pokémon. After using Underworld Door a few times, the damage done by Max Geist can start to add up to a Knock Out on even the sturdiest Pokémon. So, it makes sense to try to get multiple Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX into play without hesitation.

Fortunately, the Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion provides excellent support for Psychic-type Pokémon. Shadow Rider Calyrex V and Psychic Energy can be searched from the deck using the new Fog Crystal Item card, and Cresselia with its Crescent Glow attack makes for the perfect partner to power up this Pokémon VMAX and lead its charge to victory.

Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX occupies an interesting place in the metagame. It's likely to place a lot of pressure on the Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, Single Strike Urshifu VMAX, and Mewtwo & Mew-GX decks due to their Weakness to Psychic-type Pokémon. On the flip side, its Weakness to Darkness-type Pokémon means it will struggle against Eternatus VMAX. The challenge for top Trainers will be to discover the combination of cards that best utilize the Ability of Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX.


Enter Battle with Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX

It would be high treason to ignore Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. This Water-type Pokémon brings the chill by name, but not by nature. Its attacks can do a huge amount of damage to the opponent's Pokémon as early as the second turn of the game.

For a cost of 2 Water Energy, Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX's Max Lance attack can do up to 250 damage—that's enough to Knock Out most Pokémon in one hit! The caveat is you must discard both Water Energy, making it difficult to do heavy damage on consecutive turns. Trainers can overcome this problem by using the new Melony Supporter card to attach an extra Energy card to Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. As a bonus, Melony also lets the player draw 3 cards.

Ride of the High King provides a powerful alternative for Trainers who are averse to discarding Energy. This attack does 10 damage plus 30 more damage for each of the opponent's Benched Pokémon. It forces the opponent to think carefully about which Pokémon they play to their Bench, especially if their deck focuses on Fire-type Pokémon like Victini VMAX or Blaziken VMAX.

Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX's Weakness to Metal-type Pokémon may prove to be its downfall, as Zacian V and Lucario & Melmetal-GX continue to be popular choices for Trainers. However, since it's able to do a huge amount of damage to the opponent's Pokémon quickly and consistently—with the help of Melony—it may be enough to achieve victory in any matchup.


Rule the Roost with Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres

Prepare yourself as the Legendary Pokémon of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres soar into battle—but not as you've seen them before! These Pokémon boast powerful attacks and Abilities, plus surprising types that position them well in the metagame.

Galarian Articuno V's Reconstitute Ability makes this Pokémon a great asset on the battlefield. Discarding 2 cards to draw 1 card may seem like an underwhelming effect. However, there are many decks that require specific cards to be present in the discard pile to successfully execute their strategy. For example, Mewtwo & Mew-GX benefits from having a range of Pokémon-GX in the discard pile, while all of the new Castform require at least 8 Stadium cards in the discard pile to use their Weather Reading Ability.

Reconstitute can also be used to discard cards that are not pertinent to the matchup, thereby making the player less susceptible to drawing an undesirable hand when the opponent plays a Marnie or a Reset Stamp. Galarian Articuno V is a Psychic type and a Basic Pokémon, which means it can be retrieved from the deck using the new Fog Crystal Item card, and it's a natural fit for the Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX and Mewtwo & Mew-GX decks.

Galarian Zapdos V is a Fighting type that is not to be messed with. Using its Thunderous Kick attack, this Pokémon can Knock Out behemoths like Eternatus VMAX and Raichu & Alolan-Raichu-GX in one hit. To guarantee the Knock Out, it can even remove a Weakness Guard Energy before doing damage. Four Energy may seem like a prohibitive cost for the attack, but Galarian Zapdos V has a solution to this problem, too! Its Fighting Instinct Ability reduces the attack cost by 1 Colorless Energy for each of the opponent's Pokémon V in play. Many top Trainers play Pokémon V liberally, which means Galarian Zapdos V can be readily used in any deck that includes Fighting Energy or Aurora Energy. At the Aichi Champions League tournament held in April, which saw over 1,400 Trainers come to battle, Galarian Zapdos V found success in a variety of decks, including Mewtwo & Mew-GX decks, the Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX / Zacian V deck, and the Victini VMAX deck.

Galarian Moltres V makes a welcome addition to the Eternatus VMAX deck. Using its Direflame Wings Ability, Galarian Moltres V can attach a Darkness Energy from the discard pile to itself. Traditionally, Eternatus VMAX decks struggle to gain momentum if there are missed Energy attachments early in the game or if your opponent uses Crushing Hammer to discard Energy. In combination with Energy Switch or Weavile-GX's Shadow Connection, the Direflame Wings Ability can mitigate the impact of these situations.

Galarian Moltres V also has value as an additional attacking option in the Eternatus VMAX deck. Its Aura Burn attack does a respectable 190 damage to the opponent's Pokémon, and it only gives up 2 Prize cards when it's Knocked Out. More importantly, Galarian Moltres V has a Weakness to attacks from Grass-type Pokémon, which means it's less likely than Eternatus VMAX to get Knocked Out in one hit by attacks from Fighting-type Pokémon like Galarian Zapdos V and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX.


Blow Your Own Echoing Horn

The Echoing Horn Trainer card is a bit unusual; when you play it, you get to put a Basic Pokémon from your opponent's discard pile onto their Bench. This may seem like a rather innocuous effect, but the consequences can be game-changing. Consider how much easier the game would be if you could Knock Out the same multi-Prize card, low-HP Pokémon every turn instead of staring down a massive Pokémon VMAX. Decks that include Bench-hitting Pokémon like Zeraora V, Cramorant V, or Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, or prioritize Trainer cards that switch the opponent's Pokémon into the Active Spot, are poised to take full advantage of Echoing Horn.

Would you like to hear another great use for Echoing Horn? Increasing the number of Pokémon on the opponent's Bench—especially Pokémon V—makes it easier to attack using Galarian Zapdos V and enables players to get the most out of Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX's Ride of the High King attack.

Echoing Horn is particularly useful in the Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX / Zacian V deck. This powerful archetype is designed to take an extra Prize card with each Knock Out and typically includes Boss's Orders, which means that the opponent plays Pokémon like Kricketune V and Crobat V at greater risk. With Mawile-GX and Echoing Horn in the deck, opposing Pokémon are no longer safe in the hand, on the Bench, or in the discard pile. Given its utility in so many ways, you're sure to hear about Echoing Horn more than once.


Follow the Path to the Peak

To become a top Trainer, you need to know Path to the Peak. When this new Stadium card is on the battlefield, all Pokémon in play with a Rule Box cannot use their Abilities. This poses a significant problem for the top decks because they all rely on the Abilities of Pokémon with a Rule Box to draw cards and successfully execute their winning strategy. For example, Zacian V's Intrepid Sword Ability is essential to build momentum when it's partnered with Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX, while Eternatus VMAX relies on its Eternal Zone Ability to maximize the damage done by its Dread End attack; and then there's Crobat V, which is a staple in pretty much every archetype. An overreliance on Pokémon Abilities to draw cards, and a lack of counter Stadiums, could spell defeat for any player if the opponent combines a Path to the Peak with a Reset Stamp late in the game.

Fortunately, the impact of an opponent's Path to the Peak can be reduced or nullified by increasing the number of Stadium cards, particularly Chaotic Swell, in your deck and/or by including a Marshadow for its Resetting Hole Ability. As Path to the Peak increases in popularity, don't be surprised if there is a shift toward Supporter-based draw engines.





This is just a taste of the high-impact cards available in the new Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign expansion. With over 190 new cards to collect, including 15 Pokémon V and 8 Pokémon VMAX, there are plenty of other exciting combinations and strategies to explore. Do you have what it takes to reign supreme? Look for more Pokémon TCG strategy and analysis at Pokemon.com/Strategy.


About the Writer

Ellis Longhurst
Ellis Longhurst is a contributing writer covering Play! Pokémon events for Pokemon.com. She has been competing in high-level Pokémon TCG tournaments since 2006, and creating written content for the Pokémon community since 2011. Ellis now brings an Australian flavour to the Play! Pokémon broadcasting and stream teams at the International and World Championships.

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